Let me start off by saying that in reality, it takes years to become a truly experienced graphic designer, but everyone has to start somewhere. If you follow the steps I have listed below, you will build a basic foundation that can help you start your journey of becoming a graphic designer.
1. Have access to a reliable computer/laptop.
This one is pretty obvious (as far as I know), you can’t be a graphic designer without some kind of computer. The type of technology you choose is completely up to personal preference–it can be a desktop or laptop; Mac or Dell; I even know some people who have started their design journey using an iPad…but with this option, the amount of features available to you may be limited.
2. Choose your design software.
Your design software is the actual program you download (or website you go to) to create your design. The most popular is Adobe Illustrator (which is what I use). But when you’re just starting out, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the tools in larger softwares, or you may not have the money to get the best of the best right away. Whatever your situation, you have options. Here is a list of design software choices to get you started (some options are free, most are paid; learning curve difficulty varies):
3. Learn some skills and techniques.
Once you’ve figured out what you will use to make your designs, you need to learn how to actually make designs. I started out by learning some basics from a mentor, and from there, I got more used to designing by watching tutorials on YouTube and on LinkedIn Learning. Here are some resources for learning more about graphic design:
4. Practice, Practice Practice!
Create projects for yourself that challenger you to learn new skills and try out different techniques. When I was first starting out, I would see something cool on Pinterest and then search YouTube tutorials on how to do each effect. Sometimes it took me forever to finally get the design style down, but it allowed me to learn a lot along the way. I am not saying to copy other people’s art and pass it off as your own, but when you are just starting, it’s helpful to find things you like and imitate it. Then you can make your own tweaks to it, and eventually you’ll be able to come up with designs all on your own. Your first creations will probably look pretty bad, but if you stick with it, a few years from now, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.
When I first started out, it took me forever to do the simplest things. I took the long way to solutions because I didn’t know any better. But I was so proud of myself for figuring things out. I was proud of the work I created, and it compelled me to keep going and learn more. Now looking back, most of those first things I made were hot garbage, but I can only say that now because I have seen how much I have improved.
If you’ve been thinking about getting into graphic design, the best time to do so is now! Get out of your own way and take the first step to learning a new skill.